Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Review :: The Epic Crush of Genie Lo :: F.C. Yee

** I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own**

There was quite a bit of buzz around this book, and when it was being described as Buffy-esque there was no way I could resist checking it out.

The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes sixteen-year-old Genie’s every waking thought. But when she discovers she’s a celestial spirit who’s powerful enough to bash through the gates of heaven with her fists, her perfectionist existence is shattered.
Enter Quentin, a transfer student from China whose tone-deaf assertiveness beguiles Genie to the brink of madness. Quentin nurtures Genie’s outrageous transformation—sometimes gently, sometimes aggressively—as her sleepy suburb in the Bay Area comes under siege from hell-spawn.
This epic YA debut draws from Chinese folklore, features a larger-than-life heroine, and perfectly balances the realities of Genie’s grounded high school life with the absurd supernatural world she finds herself commanding.

So, as it turned out, this was totally fun!
I don't want to give anything away, so here are my three favourite things about it...
  • I thought both main characters (Genie and Quentin) were well written - lots of sassy one-liners and excellent chemistry;
  • Diversity! It is always awesome to see characters of different backgrounds. This touches a bit on the academic/musical Asian student trope;
  • the world building and mythology was fantastic! Despite being a relatively short book I felt like all the details were there that I needed to imagine the world.
For some reason I always sort of split my YA into younger readers and other (since there could be a pretty big difference between something a 12 or 13 yr old might read/be ready to read, vs an 18 yr old) and I would be pretty comfortable with this sitting at the younger end of the scale (possibly even middle grade?).

The Buffy comparison rang pretty true for me, in terms of Genie being a kind of reluctant 'chosen one' heroine battling between the obligations that come along with that and her 'regular' life. Also, so pretty crazy 'big bads'. It also had shades of the Invisible Library (because alternate worlds, maybe?), and also Ms Marvel (the flawed teenage female superhero, figuring out that having 'powers' isn't quite what they expected).

I gave this three stars.

xo Bron

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee is out now from ABRAMS Kids. I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review, but only chose to read it because it sounded like something I would enjoy (life's too short to read books we don't think we'll enjoy). All opinions on my blog are my own, and I wouldn't tell you it was good if I didn't really think so. =)

Monday, 11 September 2017

Review :: If There's No Tomorrow :: Jennifer L Armentrout

** I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own**
Look at the cover of this one (insert heart eyes emojis here!)
I'm not ashamed to admit that this was a total cover-lust pick up for me!
From Jennifer Armentrout's webite:
Lena Wise is always looking forward to tomorrow, especially at the start of her senior year. She’s ready to pack in as much friend time as possible, to finish college applications and to maybe let her childhood best friend, Sebastian, know how she really feels about him. For Lena, the upcoming year is going to be one of opportunities and chances.
Until one choice, one moment, destroys everything.
Now Lena isn’t looking forward to tomorrow. Not when friend time may never be the same. Not when college applications feel all but impossible. Not when Sebastian could never forgive her for what happened.
For what she let happen.
With the guilt growing each day, Lena knows that her only hope is to move on. But how can she move on when tomorrow isn’t even guaranteed?

The story didn't quite end up being my cup of tea - perhaps because of the way it puts you right inside a teenage girl's head (not somewhere I really want to spend time!), and also the fact that I found myself siding with the parents, or a bit frustrated with how the protagonist behaved. I also wasn't quite sure how I felt about the Sebastian and how she feels about him storyline - to be honest I found him a bit controlling or something some of the time?

However, I can definitely see how a different reader, or a younger reader (or maybe even a younger me?) would have a reading experience to me. I felt like there were some pretty heavy issues that are important for teens and handled well, like....
  • peer pressure and the consequences of decisions (with decision-making comes responsibility!)
  • the importance of looking out for each other, and how sometimes when a tragedy happens everyone might have a little part in it
  • how what we see when we look at other people is different to how they are seeing themselves (and vice versa too) - we can be our own worst critics, and others aren't likely to be as hard on us as we are on ourselves (and we aren't as hard on others as we are on ourselves). Does that make sense? It's my favourite lesson for us to learn - that we are not alone in how we feel about ourselves, and basically no one has any idea what they are doing (haha)
Personally, I think I would have preferred a bit more subtlety in the way that some of the issues were addressed - I found the trauma and emotion  really blunt and in my face, which made for a pretty uncomfortable read. But, as I say above, I'm not necessarily quite the main audience, and I do think there are a lot of important issues touched on - it could also provide a good opening for discussing some of these issues. Also, in case it isn't obvious, there's some pretty trigger-y stuff in here, so if that is a concern for you please make sure you find out more before you start.

xo Bron

If there's no tomorrow by Jennifer L Armentrout is out now from Harlequin.I received a review copy in exchange for an honest review, but only chose to read it because it sounded like something I would enjoy (life's too short to read books we don't think we'll enjoy). All opinions on my blog are my own, and I wouldn't tell you it was good if I didn't really think so. =)

Monday, 4 September 2017

Review :: The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club :: Sophie Green

I always have my eye out for new Australian fiction, and have been becoming more and more interested in stories about women and female friendships, so when I saw The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club by Sophie Green was available for request on NetGalley I had a feeling it was going to be a perfect read for me - and it definitely was! In fact, the day that I finished reading this I went out and bought myself a hard copy, and two friends have already borrowed it to read too.


Like I said above, I'm becoming increasingly interested in stories about women and their lives and friendships lately. This was a fantastic one. Being centred around a book club means that all the characters had to have in common was an enjoyment of reading, so in other ways they could be very different. This meant that we meet women of different ages and backgrounds and situations, who are going through a lot of different experiences that are common in women's lives. The book felt cosy, but a bit serious/heavy too - through these women we experience the loss of children and partners and parents, and even the loss of oneself into motherhood/being a wife (and then finding yourself again on the other side). 

It also explores on the actual friendships - dynamics between groups of friends and between family members, and what we share and hide from each other, and (my favourite) how women support each other. In case you can't tell, I found it utterly charming and equally heartwarming and heartbreaking and hopeful. 

I've been seeing this book everywhere since it came out a few weeks ago, and I think it will be a big hit at Christmas time - I feel like the range of situations the women are in make it a great read for an equally broad audience. I do have a couple of read-alikes for this one - other books that used multigenerational group of women in a friendship to explore similar issues:
I gave this 4.5 stars (is it ridiculous if I give quarter stars so I can go to 4.75?)
xo Bron

 The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club by Sophie  Green is out now from Hachette. I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review, but only chose to read it because it sounded like something I would enjoy (life's too short to read books we don't think we'll enjoy) - and I enjoyed so much I went out and bought myself a print copy so I could share it with my friends. All opinions on my blog are my own, and I wouldn't tell you it was good if I didn't really think so. =)

Sunday, 3 September 2017

#LoveOzYABloggers :: 'series'

After the #LoveOzYA session at the Canberra Writers Festival last week I spent a bit of time on the Love Oz YA website (so many cool resources over there!), and one of the things I came across was a fortnightly blog meme:

#LoveOzYABloggers is hosted by #LoveOzYA, a community led organisation dedicated to promoting Australian young adult literature. Keep up to date with all new Aussie YA releases with their monthly newsletter, or find out what’s happening with News and Events, or submit your own!

I love sharing (both giving and receiving!) book recommendations, so this sounded like a lot of fun to join in with. 

This fortnight's theme is 'series', and I thought I'd share three Oz YA series - one I love, one I'm partway through reading, and one I'm looking forward to...

For me this is the original, amazing, kick-arse teenage female protagonist YA story. I read this when I was at highschool, as the series came out (in fact, when the 6th book in the series was released the school librarians let me take it home before they evenprocessed it =)) and have reread (and continued to love it) many times since. 
There are 7 books in the series (and 3 in a sequel series that I never quite got into) ans I feel like this is a good one for fans of the Hunger Games (although it is more contemporary than dystopian).

I've only read the first book in this series so far, but it is sooooo good! The series follows the story of a girl called Alex who finds herself accidentally attending a magical school in a parallel world. It has adventure, and danger, and friendship (after the first book it already feels like one of those series where you fall in love with all the characters and how they relate to each other). Also, I understand that later there are dragons =) The 4th book in the series is due out early 2018. I feel like this is 'suitable' for the younger end of the YA range, and would be a good read for fans of books like The Invisible Library and maybe Harry Potter too (I feel like I've said that about a few things lately, but it's that set in a school, friends, magic, adventure feeling that I'm thinking of).

I haven't started this series yet, but am so looking forward to it - I've only heard wonderful things about it. I don't actually know anything about it, except that it is fantasy. I loved Jaclyn's contribution to the LoveOzYA anthology Begin End Begin  so I feel like I'm going to enjoy it!

So those are my three series for this fornight's theme! I'd love to know if you've read any of these, and what you thought, or if you have other favourite Oz YA series you'd recommend. And to find out more make sure you pop over to the #LoveOzYA website and checkout the other blog posts on this theme =)

Bron xo

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Review :: You Can't Win Them All, Rainbow Fish :: Marcus Pfister

My three year old daughter loves books - which is awesome, and means that kids' books have a huge (and cherished) place in our lives right now. So, I thought it might be fun to share some kids' books stuff here sometimes - current faves, new releases, and some reviews too.

Now, most of the books I get specifically for review are from NetGalley, which means they are ebooks. To start off with I was a little bit unsure about e-versions of picture books - how does that even work? But it turns out it's actually ok (although I think this is one case where actual books are definitely better).

So, today we read the newest adventure of the Rainbow Fish: You Can't Win Them All, Rainbow Fish. I was especially curious to see how this book translated to being read on the iPad, given part of the beauty of the Rainbow Fish is in the sparkly foil details in the illustrations. But I thought it came across pretty well anyway - those gorgeous watercolour illustrations are amazing. (The bright pink in the picture show us where the foil-y bits will be)

"Everyone loses once in a while. But being a good sport when you lose isn't always easy - not even for Rainbow Fish. A lighthearted look at accepting loss without losing your sparkle."

This little lesson from Rainbow Fish came at a perfect time for us - we're currently talking quite a bit about feelings, and how it's ok to be angry/jealous/sad/embarrassed sometimes. Rainbow Fish's outburst when playing with his friends - and the resolution - also gave us an opportunity to talk about how these feelings might make us behave and how to deal with having acted in a way we wished was different.

We thought this was a really sweet and fun book - just like I'd expect from Rainbow Fish! =)

Xo Bron

You Can't Win Them All, Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister is out now from North South Books Inc.
I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review, but only chose to read it because it sounded like something my daughter and I would enjoy (life's too short to read books we don't think we'll enjoy). All opinions on my blog are my own, and I wouldn't tell you it was good if I didn't really think so. =)

Monday, 28 August 2017

Review :: Away with the Fairies :: Phryne Fisher

** I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own**

It’s 1928 in Melbourne and Phryne is asked to investigate the puzzling death of a famous author and illustrator of fairy stories. To do so, Phryne takes a job within the women’s magazine that employed the victim and finds herself enmeshed in her colleagues’ deceptions.
But while Phryne is learning the ins and outs of magazine publishing first hand, her personal life is thrown into chaos. Impatient for her lover Lin Chung’s imminent return from a silk-buying expedition to China, she instead receives an unusual summons from Lin Chung’s family, followed by a series of mysterious assaults and warnings.


So it turns out Phryne Fisher is really hard to 'review'. I mean, what is there to say? I picked it up because it's Phryne Fisher. It's good because it's Phryne Fisher. Haha. In any case, this latest (for me, I mean. It is actually book #11 in the series, which puts it around halfway in terms of the books so far) book was as good as ever.

So, let's talk Phryne in general. One of the things I love about this series is the way it gives us some insight into the struggle for women being expected to return to the 'ordinary' (ie the home) after the war, when many of them had been doing extraordinary things while the men were away. I felt like we got a really god look at that in this books, and I particularly liked the bits about Phryne's women's club, and the fact that they were trying to protect the stories of women, which they knew would otherwise be lost to men's version of history.

If you're a Phryne fan and haven't read this one yet, get on it. If you haven't read Phryne before, this is as good a place to start as any! (Well, kind of - the stories build on each other a little bit in the background, in terms of who are Phryne's friends and colleagues, how they met etc, but not is a way that means you truly have to read them in order).

I gave this one three stars.

xo Bron

Away With the Fairies (Phryne Fisher #11) by Kerry Greenwood is out now from Poisoned Pen.
I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review, but only chose to read it because it sounded like something I would enjoy (life's too short to read books we don't think we'll enjoy). All opinions on my blog are my own, and I wouldn't tell you it was good if I didn't really think so. =)

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Canberra Writers Festival 2017

If you follow me on Instagram (@bookishbron)  you'll know I have just spent most of my weekend having a wonderfully bookish time at the Canberra Writers Festival. I went to four sessions, two on each day, and ate lunch in the sunshine yesterday while today it apparently snowed at lunchtime. Hello almost spring in Canberra haha.


While the festival is held at a bunch of venues across the city, all four sessions I attended were at the National Library of Australia. It is such a beautiful building, and in a perfect setting, it was a pleasure to spend the weekend there. The sun, the lake, the stained glass windows. Heart eyes for days.


The sessions I saw were:
They were honestly all so fantastic, and I am looking forward to reading all of their books. I am always so grateful to authors for being so open and sharing so much of their process and themselves at these events, and, to be honest, also for coming to Canberra (which has, in general, fewer and smaller events).


I managed be quite restrained in terms of my shopping, picking up only three new books over the two days (although, in the interest of full disclosure, I have every intention of finding Ellie Marney's latest book (No Limits) tomorrow, and getting both Richard Fidler's and Jaclyn Marney's new books (Saga Land and The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone, respectively) when they come out later in the year).

Thank you so much to everyone behind the Canberra Writers Festival for a wonderful weekend - I'm excited about next year already! 

Xo Bron